We have a lot of work to do folks if we want to gain support!


April 14, 2007, 01:22 AM
As part of the paper I've been working on since the beginning of the semester, my most recent data gathering endeavor also has been the most troubling.

I ran a survey (and am continuing to run it as while I have enough of a sample size to run a Z test, I want n≥300).

The survey question was simple. Possibly too simple (note I know the deal about the misconception regarding the 1980's mention - but put it in there for simplification purposes as that's what most people think of as the beginning of such programs with Florida's adopton)

Beginning in the 1980's various states including Florida began enacting concealed weapon/handgun permits to allow private citizens the ability to protect themselves. Thusfar, these programs have been restricted to citizens who have no criminal record or any documented significant mental health issues. Supporters argue that these programs have led to a decrease in crime through deterring criminals who fear the possibility that their victim might be armed. Critics argue that these programs could potentially produce a "wild west" society and that private citizens are not sufficiently trained in the lawful and proper usage of such weapons. In your own opinion, do you believe that concealed weapon programs are beneficial to society or detrimental to society? Please just provide a one word response: "Beneficial" or "Detrimental".

I intentionally gave only 2 possible answers (otherwise central tendency becomes a problem) So far the results are litearlly split down the middle with a slight leaning towards "Detrimental". I had a few people add an exclamation after the word "Detrimental" ("DETRIMENTAL!), and on the flip side I had one response saying, "Beneficial, and the permit in my wallet is proof that I fully believe that." - which I smiled at. Also one person put, "EXTREMELY DETRIMENTAL!"

I hope as the responses keep coming I'll see a shift, but so far it's not looking good. No wonder guns and CWPs are so controversial. It seems society is split down the middle.

We can interpret that two ways. 1) We're 50% away from losing entirely. or 2) We're not really losing, but there's much work to be done to win.

Anyways, I thought I'd let you guys know about the results so far. It bothered me.

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April 14, 2007, 02:20 AM
I think you err to ask about the benefit to society. I suspect that most CCW license holders do not get a license or carry a gun to benefit "society". They do so to protect themselves and family, not society.

Supporters argue that these programs have led to a decrease in crime through deterring criminals who fear the possibility that their victim might be armed.

Again, I suspect most CCW folks do NOT argue for CCW based on a decrease in crime in general. I don't carry to stop or decrease crime, except to myself or family.

Heck, if crime increases in my state, that is all the more reason for me to CCW.

CCW folks are not policemen.

Stopping crime in society is the job of police and government. If crime goes up in a CCW state, that is certainly not grounds to end CCW licenses unless the CCW folks are committing the crimes (and I doubt that will ever be shown). If anything, it is all the more reason to carry a gun to protect yourself and your family.

April 14, 2007, 03:03 AM
Have you considered that college students may not represent a random sample of the population?

April 14, 2007, 04:57 AM
Lots of work? There's an understatement.

Things to read:

Sunstein, C. R. (2005). Laws of fear: Beyond the precautionary principle. Cambridge, UK. Cambridge University Press.

Baron, J., Bazerman, M. H., Shonk, K. (2006). Enlarging the societal pie through wise legislation: A psychological perspective. Preprint of an article accepted for publication in Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Available here (http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~baron/etsp.pdf). (Actually published: Perspectives on Psychological Science 1 (2), 123–132.)

Kahan, D. M. & Braman, D. (2003). More statistics, less persuasion. University of Pennsylvania Law Review, 151(4), 1291-1327.

Kahan, D. M. & Braman, D. (2006). Cultural cognition and public policy. Yale Law and Policy Review, 24, 147-170.

The last two (and more) are available from the Yale Cultural Cognition Project (http://research.yale.edu/culturalcognition/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=79).

Briefest summary I can come up with: People are lousy at estimating risks for a bunch of reasons (Sunstein, Baron) Most people don't think about emotionally charged issues, they have a cultural world view and filter everything through that. They look to leaders who they believe share their worldview. Leaders do have the time to invest in political issues, but discussion tends to confirm the majority view, and over time the majority view tends to become more extreme, more polarized compared to other 'out groups'. Members of one (isolated) group filter out information from a different (isolated) group - they don't trust the intentions of 'those other guys'.

Read Gastil. J., Kahan, D.. M. & Braman, D. (2006) Ending Polarization (http://bostonreview.net.BR31.2/gastilkahanbraman.html) for a first cut at how to get groups talking to one another.

April 14, 2007, 06:32 AM
instead of asking a simple question, try implementing a simple test.

Gather 20-30 people in a classroom, have them all sit down, then pretend to lock the door. Turn around and THEN ask, 'If I had a gun right now, whats the ONE SINGLE THING you'd want to use to defend/protect yourself?'

April 14, 2007, 08:24 AM
all good points.

Remander - of course. On an individual basis, our reasons for carrying are to protect ourselves and our family. Unfortunately, in the shaping of public policy and laws, what is desired by an individual for personal reasons often comes second to societal welfare benefit vs cost. Casting aside the 2A for a moment, and pretending like it's not there (as we see many lawmakers trying to do with increasing alarm to ourselves) it is important to show how the law interacts with public welfare. Your points are entirely valid though, and remember the results of this particular survey are only one very very minor aspect of my paper. Extremely minor.

Telperion - I couldn't possibly consider myself a true student of economics if I has done a survey like that of college students only! :p Actually, so far the majority of those who have responded were actually professionals, lawyers, doctors, etc. Only a few were college students. I am going to try to get more college students today and Monday, and also at least 150 random people (maybe standing in front of the local supermarket). The data would still be skewed and I'd imagine the standard deviation relatively high, but this time it would be by region as I don't have the resources to start going into other states. I think the most I can do is a couple counties at best.

Librarian - I coudln't thank you enough for that information. If you happen to think of anything else for me to read, please let me know. So far I've gone through all of John Lott's books, a few random economics books that have brief mention of the topic, and I'm looking for a book or two from the anti-perspective now too to see what statistics they reference.

DKSuddeth - not a bad idea at all. I'd have to do it a few times to get a decent sample, but I could give a survey saying, "If I had a gun or other weapon on me right now, which of the following would you prefer to have with you?" and the options could be "1) Gun 2) Knife 3) Cellphone" or something like that. #2 I'd have to give some thought to. I don't want it to be just gun vs cellphone because then the question and test would be somewhat flawed as I'd be clearly leading them to the "gun" answer. Maybe something less-lethal like a taser would fit the bill. In other words, it would be interesting to see how the perception and desire to have a gun changes in that situation, given an alternative, yet possibly less effective weapon. Do people choose that so that they're armed, but not with an "evil" gun? Or do they cast aside their aspersions and choose their answer purely on the basis of what they know would maximize their chance of survival? It would be interesting to find out.

Mr White
April 14, 2007, 11:13 AM
You should have just posted the questin here as a poll. Then you'd have been sure to get the results you were looking for :D

I think that's how the VPC gets their statistics, except that they use democraticunderground.com.

Jorg Nysgerrig
April 14, 2007, 11:26 AM
maybe standing in front of the local supermarket

This is not random sampling.

standard deviation relatively high

Standard deviation is not the phrase you are looking for. You're not going to have a wide distribution of answers when you have a binary question.

beaucoup ammo
April 14, 2007, 11:42 AM
The "supermarket" isn't a bad spot as both camps have to eat. Where the supermarket is located is vital for a more "random" sample.

Gas stations work well as that's also a common need transcending political views. Where..that's the key.

Jorg Nysgerrig
April 14, 2007, 11:48 AM
Gas stations work well as that's also a common need transcending political views. Where..that's the key.

Not necessarily. One may find that liberals may be more inclined to take public transportation or drive more economical cars for enviromental reasons. It also rules out people who don't own cars.

April 14, 2007, 02:40 PM
Jorg - you're right. By itself that's not a random sample. I'm getting survey answers wherever I can. To do a true random sample would be kinda tough given the limited resources. I might try assigning numbers through a range to all surveys and then using a random number generator up to that range to select a certain number, but no matter what, it's still not going to be a true random sample unless I get responses from everywhere.

As for your other comment, what's wrong with saying "standard deviation"? It gets computed differently in this case, but it's still called the standard deviation, isn't it?

Jorg Nysgerrig
April 14, 2007, 04:11 PM
Standard deviation is a measure of the variance among the samples, not a estimate of accuracy. You won't have much variance because there are only two options. Standard deviations are more useful to describe the shape of a normally distributed data set.

I think you're talking about margin of error, confidence levels and or confidence intervals.

April 14, 2007, 09:29 PM
I think you're talking about margin of error, confidence levels and or confidence intervals.

And I think it's not worth me taking a chance, so I think I'll be pulling out my statistics textbooks and doing a quick refresher session to make sure I don't make an ass of myself in the paper. ;)

beaucoup ammo
April 15, 2007, 08:29 AM
Be sure to let us read your results. There is not only beauty..but effectiveness as well...in simplicity. You have made it easy for the subjects and that's half the battle. It lessens the chance of pollution if the thought process isn't taxed too far. Moods can turn on a dime. All this is marketing 101, however our side needs (much) more ammo and you can provide it.

Down the road, if you decide to pursue this, I found college marketing classes to be a gold mine. People like yourself want real world application and businesses need the help.

I used The University Of Texas At San Antonio (UTSA) for years while at Clear Channel and everyone benefited.

The same professor assisted in constructing focus groups when I moved into producing music..and it proved to be a great resource. Again, as others have mentioned, watch your demographics and get as much a balance as possible. If you perfect "Random Sampling", or even come close, you'll make a mint!

When it comes to public opinion..especially with a divisive topic like yours..you have be on your toes...good luck.

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